I started this blog when my kids were 6 and 8, and reading was shared and exciting and a doorway into my own past life. I found books I'd known and they were changed, I found books I hadn't known were there. It was weird and fun, which is how I like it.
Now they are 13 (gasp!) and 15 (double gasp!) and their reading has, of course, shifted, in ways I would never have predicted. Diane has dived deep into the worlds of fantasy and darkness and humor, where she is swimming in waters beyond anything I'd ever reached, looking for something that amazing mind of hers can grab onto.
While Chestnut has been reading—grown up books (triple gasp!). As in: she takes the book away from me after I'm done, or (in extreme cases) while I am reading it. Which is how she ended up coming upon Kate Atkinson, and after a while, Life After Life.
This is not a book that's easy to read. I don't mean in terms of reading level but more in terms of "Oh my god harsh pseudo-reality." But Chestnut is interested in a bunch of harsh books these days, and she's really loved other Kate Atkinson she's read (mostly the detective stories), so it seemed like it made sense.
Chestnut read it. And read it. And read it. And then she put it down. "It's upsetting," she said.
"So put it away and don't read anymore," I said.
She considered this. And I was glad, because it IS upsetting, and you don't have to deal with the harsh realities of life (death, rape, abuse, loneliness) in fiction, especially when you're a kid. There's enough of it all around you. So she put it down—and then she picked it up again a few days later.
Why? "Because it changes the way I think," she said. "Sometimes I start to think in the school way, and I don't like it. I have to read things like this so it makes me go back to thinking in the other way." But it's upsetting? "The upsetting part is how it can change the way I think."
I found this both confusing and moving (that is how I feel so often being a parent actually). And also, I think, true in some way that I am not able to name. Can you name it? Or should I just trust it?